Take a Best Week Ever grand circle tour of Disney’s Grand Floridian and the other WDW monorail hotels. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)
Welcome aboard another Best Week Ever, where we’re off on a “grand circle tour” at the Vacation Kingdom. That phrase may have brought to mind the iconic Walt Disney World Railroad, but there is another kind of transportation loop at the Magic Kingdom — and this one is (mostly) free to enjoy, well without paying admission anyway. I recently spent an afternoon exploring Walt Disney World’s monorail hotels via foot, boat, and (of course) monorail.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
I began my tour of the WDW monorail resorts at the recently retro-named Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort because it is the easiest to access from the Transportation and Ticket Center’s parking lot. (The hotel’s parking lot is reserved for guests with room or dining reservations, and we’d never sanction sneaking in…)
Current map of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
The “Poly” has seen plenty of changes in the last couple years, and the transformation isn’t finished yet, as you can tell by the construction walls that confront you along the approach from the TTC.
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In addition to the dozens of fun and fabulous attraction ride vehicles you’ll encounter during a Walt Disney World vacation (Hunny Pots! Doom Buggies!), you’re also likely to go on some plain and practical rides during your visit. These are the many types of transportation vehicles that do yeoman’s work getting you from point A to point B on the 40 square miles of Disney property. Here’s a primer on the types of transport you’ll find on your trip.
You may use many forms of internal transportation during your visit to Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Magical Express bus service has its own rules, but all of the other forms of transportation listed below can be used by anyone, any time, for free.
Again, except for Magical Express, transportation use has no requirement that you be staying on property or at a particular resort. You don’t have to have any sort of ticket to use these transportation vehicles. The drivers don’t have any mechanism to take payments or tickets or anything like that. Really, it’s free. You may very rarely see some fine print that some transportation is only for resort guests. In 15 years of frequent WDW visits, taking thousands of trips on Disney internal transportation, I have never been asked where I’m staying as a condition of boarding a vehicle. On the three to five most crowded days of the year, you might be asked to show resort ID to get on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, at some times of the day. This is simply for crowd control purposes at the park and has nothing to do with limiting your access to the transportation itself.
You can get anywhere on Walt Disney World property using only this free Disney-provided transportation, but bear in mind that many types of trips will require a mid-route transfer. For example, to get from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot, you’ll need to change monorail lines at the Transportation and Ticket Center, or to get from the Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Beach Club, you’ll need to change buses at the Animal Kingdom park or switch from a bus to a boat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
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